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Google offers free book downloads

Books in public domain can be downloaded in PDF format

By Juan Carlos Perez
August 30, 2006 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service -  Google Inc. has expanded its controversial book search service to allow people to download whole copies of books in PDF format to their computers with the ability to print them out.

The feature went live today on  the service's Web site, said Adam Smith, group product manager of Google Book Search and Google Scholar.

The books available for download will only be those that are in the public domain and not protected by copyright, Smith said. Until now, people have been able to read these public-domain books on the Google Book Search Web site, but they could not download and print them, he said.

Google will not allow downloading of copyrighted books, not even those whose copyright holders have granted Google permission to display their full text, Smith said.

The vast majority of the public-domain books available for download have been scanned as part of the library project of the Google Book Search service, Smith said. For the project, Google is scanning portions of the collections of some of the world's largest academic libraries, including Google partners Harvard University, Stanford University and Oxford University.

However, critics say Google can't scan copyrighted books it obtains from the libraries unless it gets permission from the copyright holders. The issue is at the center of two separate lawsuits brought against Google last year, one by The Authors Guild Inc. and three authors, and another by The Association of American Publishers on behalf of five of its members: The McGraw-Hill Cos., Pearson Education Inc., Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Simon & Schuster Inc. and John Wiley & Sons Inc. 

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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